West Bengal

Mamata meets Modi, brings up BSF jurisdiction, Centre-State relations, ailing jute industry and other issues

Published : November 24, 2021 20:30 IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in New Delhi on November 24. Photo: PTI

“We are supposed to receive from the Centre Rs.96,655 crore, and I asked the Prime Minister how the State can function if that payment is stopped,” Mamata told the media after meeting Modi.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi on November 24 and discussed a number of issues, including the Centre increasing the jurisdiction of the Border Security Force (BSF) in Bengal, the COVID situation, revival plans for the jute industry, and the need for a healthy Centre-State relationship for enhancing development. Mamata also asked the Centre to release the payments that were due to the State. “We are supposed to receive from the Centre Rs.96,655 crore, and I asked the Prime Minister how the State can function if that payment is stopped. He said he would look into the matter,” Mamata told the media after her meeting with Modi.

Mamata requested Modi to withdraw the Home Ministry notification increasing the jurisdiction of the BSF from 15 km to 50 km from the international border in Bengal. ”Federal structure is very important in our country and we have to keep it strong. Giving the BSF greater powers leads to confrontation with the State’s law and order,” said Mamata. She said that she had nothing against the BSF and that she “respected” all the agencies.

“A few days ago three poor people died in BSF firing in Cooch Behar district. Before also there have been many deaths (from BSF firing) in Uttar Dinajpur, Dakshin Dinajpur, Malda, Murshidabad, Cooch Behar, Uttar 24 Parganas…. We are willing to extend whatever support necessary to the BSF, but the federal structure in the country should not be unnecessarily disturbed,” said Mamata. On November 16, the West Bengal Assembly passed a resolution under Rule 169 demanding the withdrawal of the Centre's notification.

Mamata also enquired about the Centre’s policy on vaccinating 12-18 year olds. “Schools and colleges have reopened, so I asked the Prime Minister to please consult the expert committee and also send us vaccines so there is no scope for any lapse,” she said. She also discussed the need to revive the ailing jute industry in Bengal.

In the meeting Mamata Banerjee spoke of the need for strong Centre-State relations to foster growth and development. “Whatever be our political differences let it not affect our State-Centre relations. If the State develops, the Centre also develops. I have invited the Prime Minister to inaugurate the business conference in Bengal,” she said.

Before meeting Modi, Mamata had a meeting with senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy. Asked about the meeting, she said, “What is the harm? There may be political differences, but there are so many important personalities; there we forget politics and meet each other. That is our democracy. Praising Mamata after the meeting, Swamy said on social media: “Of the all the politicians I have met or worked with, Mamata Banerjee ranks with JP, Morarji Desai, Rajiv Gandhi, Chandrashekhar, and P V Narasimha Rao who meant what they said and said what they meant. In Indian politics that is a rare quality.”

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